March 31, 2015 AT 8:00 am

Build An Open Astronomy Learning Tool With Arduino


Make Galileo’s Finger: and open source star finder. via instructables

Given the opportunity to use one of the Intel Galileo boards, we wanted to build something that would honour Galileo’s memory and pay tribute to his discoveries. What better way than to do something related to his primary focus – astronomy.
Being an avid astronomer, and loving being able to look up into the night sky and know what star or planet I’m looking at, I thought a cheap, accurate laser pointer would be perfect.
With the right idea in mind, and three weeks in which to do it, my partner and I set off coding and building.


This is what we needed (software side included) to build our model:

• Soldering iron
• Hot glue gun
• Drill and appropriate bits
• Saw
• Pencil

• Intel Galileo (Any micro will work – you just need serial communications and 4 output pins)
• 2 x Stepper Motors (we used Nema 17s)
• 2 x Stepper motor controllers (we used Easy Driver v4.4)
• Veroboard/Breadboard
• Some headers to mount the motor controllers
• Wires for connecting
• Ball bearings (we used parts from an old printer and harddrive – see pictures)
• Elastic bands
• Solder
• Laser pointer (please be careful with this)
• AA battery pack(or anything that can provide a steady 3V – NOT the arduino)
• Wood

• Arduino IDE
• Python 3.3
• PySerial
• PyEphem
• Stellarium

Full tutorial

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